Interpreting Android’s Battery Statistics
Android provides users with battery statistics designed to provide guidance as to what’s using the battery. This information can also provide insight and troubleshooting data, but it’s not always obvious how to find the information and what it means. Let’s take a look at how to find this information and what it all means.
There are many versions of Android in use today and it has been a very popular platform with many different manufacturer overlays over the Android software, your device information screens will likely differ from the examples presented here. Google has also amended how the information is presented; you can download third party applications to provide more detailed battery statistic information too.
To access your battery statistics, look for “Battery” or “Power” in your Settings application. Sometimes this is placed in the “Device” section or tab, and often you can tap on the battery symbol in your drop down menu. Most devices provide a chart showing the battery level and under here is some information as to what the device was doing at the time. Tapping on the chart provides some additional information; let’s go ahead and tap on this now, as I’d like to explain this display first.
Here’s the display for my Nexus 5X, running Android 7.1.2 Nougat and with the Data Saver mode enabled. Under the chart we have five lines for Mobile network signal, GPS, Wi-Fi, Awake and Screen On details. This information can useful for investigating what is using the battery. A poor Mobile network signal means that the smartphone is working harder to find a better signal – green is good, red is bad. GPS is one of the heavier users of battery on a smartphone whereas Wi-Fi is relatively kind. The next two lines, Awake and Screen On, should be similar but it is usual to see the device Awake more than the Screen On entry, because the phone will do things in the background with the display off. However, if the phone is constantly awake, this is bad news and means an application or service is misbehaving.
First, tap the back command on your smartphone to take us to the view of the chart with application detail below this. This list shows the applications or services that have used a significant (measurable) amount of power since your device was last fully charged. They’re displayed in the order of power used. As a generalisation, we’d expect to see the display high up on the list for an actively used device. For a smartphone that’s been left idle for a long period of time, we would expect to see Android OS, Android System, and Google Play Services high up on the list. If you talk a lot, Voice Calls will also be high up on the list.
Each entry in the list may be tapped on to provide with additional information. Some of this information is straightforward; tapping on the Display or Voice Calls options shows long long the screen has been and how many minutes you’ve been talking. Things get more interesting when we look at entries such as Android System and Google Services. These show you additional details as to what parts of your device these system services have been using. Note how Android provides details as to how long the service has used features such as the GPS, Wi-Fi, and how many network packets have been sent and received and over what network type.
These Android services are linked with core functions such as location and mobile data use. In the gallery above, see how Google Services has kept both the Wi-Fi and mobile data network active? This is normal for my Nexus when I am walking. If you think that your battery is draining too quickly, take a look at these entries in your battery use screen. If an application is using the network or location services but you’re not using it, you may see Android System and Google Services appearing high up in the list.
What are you looking in this list? A misbehaving application will be obvious: it appears high up in the list and on that charge, you have either not used it, or barely used it. Over the years Android has evolved such that it’s harder for individual applications to misbehave. It does happen and sometimes a reboot is all that’s needed to solve this, or sometimes there is a fault with the application. Google is aware of the issue and is reaching out to developers but you can also report an application using a lot of power by clicking on the “Report” dialogue button.
It’s sensible to take a look at your battery statistics so that you are used to what a normal day looks like. This means that when your battery is lower than you expect, a quick look into battery settings should show you what’s not normal and the cause of the problem.
Finally, if you have a device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, your device will include Google’s Doze technology. Doze is a way of suspending activity so as to preserve battery power and it can be very effective, as this image shows. When the Nexus 5X is idle, the battery chart is beautifully flat.